On October 3rd, 2011 at the historic Fillmore theater in San Francisco, CA Lyrics Born gave his speech as the keynote speaker at the 2011 Mayoral Candidates Forum.
Below is the video from the event as well as the transcription of LB’s speech.
Historically, San Francisco has always been a place for independent people, who’s taste and lifestyles go against the conventional grain, a safe-haven and hub for those of us who saw many of society’s norms as limiting, or ultimately obsolete. As we settled in this small city and it’s surrounding area, we’ve created a cultural legacy that is unparalleled. Only 46 sq miles and 800,000 people, San Francisco has championed and pioneered MORE independent, progressive, cultural movements than any city it’s size. The student movement, the LGBT movement, the green and green energy movement, the alternative medical movement, the technological revolution, the list goes on. True to this independent spirit, and in addition to the afore mentioned cultural phenomenon’s, one of our greatest accomplishments has been the San Francisco music movement: We boast a musical legacy that would make any city blush, pioneering in all genres, in every era, and even creating a few new ones along the way. To name ONLY a few of our artists, we claim Janice Joplin and Starship in the 60’s, Sly and The Family Stone, Tower of Power, Creedence Clearwater, and Sylvester in the 70s, Sheila E. and the Escovedo family, Metallica, Green Day, and Too Short, in the 80’s on, and E-40, Tupac, Heiroglyphics, Quannum Projects, in the 90’s. In the new millennium, we also proudly claim Goapele, the grammy nominated singer Ledisi, and of course your keynote speaker for this evening, Rapper/em-singer/songwriter/producer, Lyrics Born.
The truth is, my story couldn’t have happened anywhere else, but San Francisco. A Japanese, Jewish and Italian kid raised on Hip Hop music amongst a peer group that just was as multi-dimensional in culture, experiences, and ideology as I was. I didn’t realize how special the city was in this regard until I began to tour professionally in the late 90s. Seeing the entire planet several times over, it became immediately obvious that this independence and diversity so deeply woven into the fabric of San Francisco was the exception, and not the norm. It was at that instant I realized how truly unique San Francisco is. We are proud of our culture, we are proud of our arts and artists, and we are proud of our unique musical legacy.
Nowhere was this more apparent than @ this year’s Outside Lands Festival. Despite a troubled economy, Outside Lands turned this city’s love for music, food, and culture into a 3 day SOLD OUT extravaganza entertaining a total of 180,000 ppl. That’s the equivalent of more than 4 sold out Giants games @ AT&T park. With that kind of paid attendance, San Francisco is now officially host to an event that is among the Pantheon of iconic American music festivals, that includes Coachella, Bonnaroo, and of course, Lollapallooza. But what must be noted, and what is unique to the success of Outside Lands, is that alongside the national and international Musical mainstays that performed, the lineup included a healthy helping of exceptionally talented and popular native artists.
Similarly remarkable was this past weekend’s Hardly/Strictly Bluegrass festival, whose lineup was as equally diverse and varied as the people of San Francisco itself. What is absolutely mind blowing however, is that Hardly Strictly Bluegrass fest played host to 800,000 people over the course of 4 days. 800,000 PEOPLE. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the equivalent to the entire population of the city of San Francisco itself, and more than 10% of the entire Bay Area population at large. That is JAW-DROPPING. Next, add the staggering numbers of both festivals to those of all the other citywide seasonal festivals such as the venerable Stern Grove, Fogfest, and Treasure Island fest. Then add that sum to the year-round attendance of our iconic venues such as the Fillmore, Warfield, Yoshi’s and the aptly named, the Independent, and it isn’t hard to see the tangible, quantifiable, cultural and ECONOMIC importance that MUSIC has in this town.
I say that to say this. Let’s take it further. Let’s build on that momentum. As it is ingrained in the independent spirit and character of San Francisco, we have consistently shown that we are fervently committed to hearing, seeing, and experiencing music. Our artists, our legacy, and our passion for music are our greatest natural resources. True to our Independent spirit, as we have pushed for sustainable practices in other areas, lets nurture this precious natural resource, and make it sustainable as well. In the same way Art and Film have presence in the Mayor’s office, so should music. We at the Recording Academy are committed to opening an office within City Hall and working closely with the Mayor, uniquely focused on furthering the economic development of music in San Francisco. The support of the community is clearly there, and our presence in the Mayor’s office would continue to build on that support of Music as a viable business in the City. I advocate for this not just as an Advisor to the board of the Recording Academy but also as a career musician and lifelong fan of Music who wants to see the beautiful and uniquely rich cultural legacy of San Francisco FLOURISH. Let’s make it all happen right here, right now.
My name is Lyrics Born.